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Newsletter - April 2012
It was not my intention to make the April issue of the newsletter all-Canadian; it just kind of happened. Months ago I’d scheduled Canadian Lana Hames to be Designer of the Month in April. I’d planned to talk about Canadians Kate Atherley’s and Jane Thornley’s e-books this month in my Editor’s Choice column. Then three new designers, all Canadian, offered their designs to Patternfish in April. There really was no choice but to happily go with the flow.
So April is the Canadian issue, with the exception of the Prime Minister’s Choices from the sometimes contrary, but always inspired Julia Grunau, who goes international.
Prime Minister's Choices
Since the rest of this issue is so very Canadian, I wanted to celebrate some of our more international publishers this time (how Canadian is THAT?).
From Belgium comes Mer Almagro's Molehill shawl. This appeals both because of the beauty and integration of the stitch patterns, but also the scale of it: lace writ large. Delicately bold, or boldly delicate, and it won't take forever to make.
The Knit Box, from Turkey, always presents lovely work. But we find these slippers particularly unusual, with a real Eastern flavour. Everyone has or needs slippers. These are more special than the usual run, but not at all hard to knit.
Although Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton is an American, we salute her here because she has lived in Sweden for more than 20 years. Her Roslyn is a beautiful cardigan, intriguing, feminine; plainish in silhouette, but its style is utterly uncommon.
Here Denmark's Inge Sandholt presents a wonderful beret in a DK weight. We love the slouchy/blouse-y crown, and that the brim is bejewelled (with a manageable number of beads). A great summer knit-- simple and fun and elegant.
From Wicked Woollens in Wales: Sally Pointer's Goblin Market. For years I have been a complete fool for this design. I love everything about it. I would make it in silk and feel right at home in an Arthur Rackham illustration holding it. Only about 100m of some precious fibre, and you have an instant heirloom and/or perfect gift.
Finally, from Naturally New Zealand, German designer Gitta Schrade offers a terrific sweater for anybody in any season. It's that simple. Sized for age 2 to Men's XL, this is just one for the ages, given in both 8 and 10 ply (DK and worsted) weights.
The world of e-books is expanding at an amazing rate and I am personally delighted to be able to pare down my bookshelves to my most treasured volumes and free up space for more yarn. Patternfish’s e-shelves hold over 80 e-books right now and most are pattern collections, opportunities to get a pattern stash from a designer you love at a great price. Others are technique tutorials from inspired teachers. You can see all of them by searching the Educational/E-book link.
An e-book I’m very excited about is Kate Atherley’s Beyond Knit and Purl. Kate speaks: “This book comes from my 10 years of teaching experience; it’s designed specifically to help knitters take the leap from learning the knit and purl stitches to learning how to successfully execute a pattern. I’m thrilled that my book is available in digital format on Patternfish – knitters can keep it with them in their knitting bags, on their tablets and portable devices.”
And I’m thrilled because Kate has written a book with everything a new knitter needs to know including tips and tricks to make knitting a more enjoyable and successful experience. It's an experienced knitter’s treasure, too. Even those with years of experience will find long-forgotten or not yet discovered tips and tricks.
There are 15 patterns, too, illustrating the techniques that she explains in teacherly detail. And 6 mini-patterns to try out your new skills before you invest time and money in a larger project. Go to the pattern page by clicking on the photo and you’ll find a preview of Beyond Knit and Purl to browse through.
Jane Thornley’s e-book, Knit a Beach, is about as far away from Beyond Knit and Purl as you can get and still be in the knitting universe. First you learn with Kate, then you temporarily take leave of some of that knowledge and go on an adventure with Jane to your favourite beach. Knit a Beach has no line by line instructions, no detailed pattern, no specified yarns (it’s stash diving time). What it does have is a thoughtful and thought provoking guide and stimulation to engage in evocative knitting.
Jane speaks: “Knit a Beach is what I call 'evocative knitting' where stitches and yarn free-flow into landscapes, ideas or, in this case, a beach. Once you let yourself play in the waves, a whole new world unfolds. Mistakes? Forget the word. To me, following a structured pattern is hard while combining simple stitches and gorgeous yarns through a guide is pure liberation.”
In this issue ...
From the Prime Minister's Desk
Gayle found an inadvertent Canadian concentration when she was working on this issue; at the same time, I was in Cologne, Germany, at an annual European trade show (Handarbeit + Hobby). So it seemed only fair to celebrate a few non-North American designers/publishers in the PM's Choice!
There are three industry trade shows I make a point of attending every year. Each consists of yarn/pattern distributors exhibiting to retailers, so they're not open to the general public. Two of them are put on in North America by TNNA (The National Needle Arts Association). There is always one in January (held somewhere warm, like San Diego or Long Beach or Phoenix) to formally introduce the industry's Spring season; and there's one in June in Columbus, Ohio, to introduce the retailers to the Fall lines. In Europe they combine both into one annual event (Handarbeit). Not all the Fall garments are ready for show in March, but you can certainly look at gorgeous photos of the upcoming designs, and be terrifically inspired by them. (For example, as strong as Sirdar's collection was for F/W 2011/12, I think it's even better this year.)
The TNNA shows are larger than Handarbeit in both geography and number of exhibitors. But the Cologne show is special to North American eyes. The first time I went, the Opal booth featured a sock opera a few times a day-- it was incredible, with singing and sock puppetry, and it drew throngs for every performance. TNNA shows are abundant, exuberant; Handarbeit is smaller, more focused in energy, and at the same time it expands your understanding of what's possible in fashion and presentation.
Charity Selection by the Designer of the Month
Lana Hames as chosen the Canadian Diabetes Association as her charity for April in memory of her father. Hames and Patternfish will each be donating $1.00 for each Lanaknits Designs sold during the period of the April newsletter.
Designer of the Month:
Here’s our conversation with Lana Hames.
What’s your design process? It’s difficult for me to describe because it’s just something I’m always doing. While knitting I’m often studying the fabric that is evolving from the stitch pattern I’m working with. I look at it one way, then turn it and study it again. This often creates the first hint of a new design.
My very first pattern was designed this way. I was working on a hemp washcloth using a garter stitch pattern that included a simple lace diamond. I really liked the fabric created by this stitch pattern. I put it over my wrist, tightened it a bit and imagined it was a sleeve of a sweater. Voila…the Lace Diamond Trellis Pullover and Cardigan patterns were created. I was challenged with the construction since the design needed to be worked sideways. It pushed me beyond my comfort zone and I learned a whole lot about designing and writing patterns. So I’d have to say I mostly design ‘on the needles’. After the swatch is done, I do a rough sketch and set it aside so I can study it. Thinking, thinking, thinking until a design comes to me and away I go, knitting and writing notes along the way.
I always know when a design is extra special because I can’t wait to wake in the morning and pick up the project and knit. I’m smiling. I’m mellow. I’m in my happy place.
What inspires you? What are you passionate about? I love fashion; one of my childhood dreams was to be a fashion designer. I regularly check out the latest runway designs and am in awe of the talent. Fashion is limitless. Knitwear design is just a small part of the industry and I’m passionate about it. I’m thrilled to be a knitwear designer. It’s a lot of hard work but it is a rewarding and satisfying career.
Which is your favourite design? I really like garter stitch so it has to be one of my designs that features it. My current favorite is the Lace Garden Cardi. I find it casual enough for everyday wear but I can easily dress it up or down depending on the occasion. I like the ¾ length sleeves and depending on the weather I will wear either a long sleeve shirt or tank underneath.
Which is your customers' favourite design? It has to be the Cool Hemp Ponchette, a simple rectangular stitched to form a poncho shape. It’s an easy garter stitch lace edging pattern with the main stitch being garter. Gauge is not really important and it will fit and flatter many sizes and can be worn various ways. My best selling design on Patternfish is my Elegant Empire. There’s a baby version, too, that I created for my first grandchild.
When did you learn to knit? I surely did knit something for Brownies so I knew how to knit, but I didn’t really learn until I was newly married and living and working in Perth, Australia. During lunch breaks many of the women I worked with would be knitting. This was something I never witnessed while working in Canada. I was so enthralled with their skills. Being newly wed, I wanted to knit a sweater for my husband. A lovely co-worker named Margaret offered to teach and coach me along. Only later did I realize how much she actually did, like fix all my mistakes, sew it together, knit the turned back ribbed neckband. It was a treasure and my husband wore it for probably a decade. Margaret made this really big project a success for a beginner. Now, each time someone comes into my studio seeking support, I’m always reminded of the help Margaret so readily provided and I’m more than happy to share my knowledge.
Thank you, thank you Margaret! After that first sweater I always had something on my needles.
When did you start designing? What was the first design that you created? Which is the first that you sold? I started designing about 14 years ago and my first design was Lace Diamond Trellis Pullover and Cardigan. The first design I sold was Beautiful Basket Stitchery. I submitted four designs to Knitters magazine and they selected two. I was over the moon. This gave me the confidence to grow my business and continue to design.
Where do you think you and your business will be in 10 years? I don’t normally plan ahead a whole decade! I will continue to do what I’m currently doing for as long as I can and for as long as there is interest in my designs.
In what ways do you spend your time that would surprise people? Interesting question and I’m not sure that I do anything that would be a surprise or very interesting. I’m somewhat fanatic about fitness and I make sure I’m at the gym several days a week taking some sort of aerobic class. I studied ballet as a young girl and loved it, and yes, I dreamed about being a ballerina, too. The aerobic classes remind me a little of ballet class. Everyone moving and dancing in unison to music! It’s fun and sets me up for the day ahead.
How did you come to list your patterns with Patternfish? Julia used to rep for my company so when she introduced the Patternfish business model to me it was a no-brainer. With her vibrant personality, her skill with words, her knitting experience and professional manner I knew she would have a quality business that I wanted to be a part of. I’m proud to say Patternfish carries all of our patterns.
See all of Lanaknits Designs.
Our Newest Designers and Publishers
We welcomed 3 new designers in March and all are Canadian.
Liz Capik of Apple Tree Knits debuts with her Basilica Shawl, a masterpiece of inventive construction. Liz describes Basilica: “Cathedral lace is the star here, with simple mesh lace and stockinette stitch as the back-up singers.” The woman has a way with words as well as sticks and string.
Vickie Hartog’s first design, her Fair Isle Hand Warmers, is practically a tutorial- revealing organizational skills, personal discipline, and a talent for juxtaposition of seemingly unlikely fair isle patterns from the bands of corrugated cuff, to the strict division of patterns by narrow bands, to the different graphs for each hand.
Martina Munroe begins at Patternfish with her Whitby Summer Sun Wrap, named for the Ontario town where she lives and runs her yarn shop, Kniterary. The wrap drapes beautifully courtesy of the open lace patterning and a larger than usual gauge for this yarn. It’s knit with yarn doubled for speed.
Collection of the Month
All these patterns are by Canadian designers.
|Veronik Avery||Ilga Leja||Robin Melanson||Deb Gemmel|
|Luise O’Neill||Lynette Meek||Dorothy Siemens||Glenna C.|
|Natalie Servant||Beverly Ann Finlay||Megan Lacey||Trudy Van Stralen|
|Gayle Bunn||Elizabeth Fallone||Maureen Mason-Jamieson||Katherine Matthews|
From the Ambassador's Desk
- Gayle Clow
Lana Hames’ selection of the Canadian Diabetes Association as her charity for April reminded me of the life saving isolation of insulin by Banting and Best at the University of Toronto in the 1920’s and I began wondering about other Canadian inventions.
The basketball and the snowmobile are pretty well known. I went looking for some of the lesser known and found inventions both essential and amusing. A short eclectic list: the automatic foghorn, the anti-gravity suit, plexiglass, the paint roller, the jolly jumper, instant mashed potatoes, the heart pacemaker, and the zipper.